Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 12-D-279004; the
Hon. Jeanne M. Reynolds, Judge, presiding.
Spencer, of Chicago, for appellant.
Charles A. Bird, of Dentons U.S. LLP, and Jennifer Payne, of
Legal Assistance Foundation, both of Chicago, for appellee.
PRESIDING JUSTICE REYES delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion. Justices Lampkin and Burke concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Respondent Le Dominic Williams (Williams) appeals from a
plenary order of protection issued by the circuit court of
Cook County pursuant to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of
1986 (Domestic Violence Act) (750 ILCS 60/101 et
seq. (West 2014)) in favor of Gilda Petalino (Petalino).
Williams argues that the circuit court abused its discretion
when it denied his motion for substitution for judge.
Williams also argues the circuit court erred in denying his
motion for a continuance of the hearing to provide him the
opportunity to subpoena his witnesses. For the reasons that
follow, we affirm.
3 On January 26, 2012, Williams filed a complaint in the
circuit court of Cook County to determine the existence of a
parent-child relationship pursuant to the Illinois Parentage
Act of 1984 (Parentage Act) (750 ILCS 45/1 et seq.
(West 2012)). Williams alleged he fathered a child (B.W.)
with Petalino and requested the court enter the following
orders: (1) declare him to be B.W.'s father, (2) require
Petalino to pay child support, and (3) establish reasonable
visitation. In her answer to the complaint, Petalino admitted
Williams is B.W.'s biological father, requested Williams
be ordered to pay child support, and admitted the court
should establish reasonable visitation.
4 On June 25, 2013, after a hearing on all of the issues
pertaining to the parentage of B.W., the circuit court
entered an order finding Williams was B.W.'s father and
granting Petalino sole custody of the child and provided
"liberal and reasonable visitation" for Williams
with specific provisions.
5 Petalino, on October 23, 2014, filed a petition for an
order of protection based on Williams's alleged use of a
belt on the child's buttocks as a form of punishment.
Accompanying the petition was a form "Domestic Violence
Cover Sheet, " which indicated that the parties had
previously filed a parentage action between them that was
assigned case No. 12 D 279004. Upon presentment of the
petition, the circuit court, although finding that there was
insufficient evidence of an emergency, did schedule the
matter for a hearing. At Petalino's request, on December
19, 2014, the circuit court voluntarily dismissed the
petition without prejudice.
6 Petalino, on December 19, 2014, filed a petition for an
emergency order of protection alleging (1) on two occasions
Williams beat B.W. with a belt on his buttocks and (2) the
Department of Children and Family Services indicated a
finding of child abuse or neglect against Williams regarding
his treatment of B.W. The emergency petition was also
accompanied by a "Domestic Violence Cover Sheet"
that was identical to the one previously filed and,
accordingly, the matter was set for a hearing. That same day,
the circuit court granted an emergency order of protection
for both Petalino and B.W. Williams was ultimately served
with the petition by publication.
7 On March 6, 2015, Williams was present in court and was
represented by counsel who had not yet filed an appearance.
The circuit court granted Williams or his counsel 21 days to
file an appearance and continued the matter for status to
April 21, 2015.
8 Williams, on March 27, 2015, filed his pro se
appearance and requested an additional 14 days to respond to
the motion for the order of protection and retain counsel.
9 On April 20, 2015, Williams filed a pro se motion
for substitution of judge. In his motion, Williams asserted
that he "believes it would be in his best interest to
have the matter transferred to be heard before a different
Judge as [the same trial judge] handled and decided the
custody issues, visitation, child support and mediation
matters pertaining to [Williams's] minor child."
Williams further asserted he "believes that the Order of
Protection would much better be handled by another Judge as
there would be no past matter familiarities on any issues
other than the issues at hand for the present
litigation." The motion did not indicate whether
Williams was seeking a substitution of judge as of right or
for cause. The following day, the circuit court denied the
motion for substitution of judge, granted Williams an
additional 10 days to answer the order of protection, and set
the matter for hearing on May 12, 2015.
10 Thereafter, Williams timely filed a motion for
reconsideration, which clarified that his request for
substitution of judge was being made as of right. On May 12,
2015, the circuit court denied the motion on the basis that
substantive rulings had already been rendered by the same
trial judge. The circuit court further ordered that the
hearing be continued to June 1, 2015, for Petalino to present
the remainder of her case in chief and for Williams to
present his case.
11 On May 31, 2015, Williams e-mailed Petalino's counsel
indicating he would be filing an emergency motion to continue
the hearing the next day. The emergency motion, which is
devoid of a file stamp, appears in the supplemental record
and indicates that the basis for Williams's request for a
continuance was for an "opportunity to subpoena his
witnesses" as they were unable to be present for the
12 On June 1, 2015, after concluding the hearing, the circuit
court granted a two-year plenary order of protection for
Petalino and B.W. The record on appeal contains no order or
report of proceedings indicating the circuit court ruled on
Williams's emergency motion for a continuance. This
14 Substitution of Judge as of Right
15 On appeal, Williams first argues the circuit court erred
when it denied his motion for substitution of judge as of
right. Williams maintains his motion was timely because (1)
it was filed shortly after he filed his appearance and (2)
the circuit court had not made any substantive ...